To call me a book nerd would be like calling the Hulk green, so obvious that the statement is completely unnecessary. So, when I found out that July 30 was the day the modern paperback book was introduced, I wanted to know more.
First, let’s get some facts straight. July 30, 1935 was not the day the first paperback book was published. In France and Germany, paperback books were published in the 17th century, and James Fenimore Cooper wrote paperback book-like frontier stories back in 1823. Probably the first true mass-market paperback was Malaeska, by Ann S. Stephens, published in June 1860 by the pioneers of the Dime Novel or “penny dreadful.”
However, July 30, 1935 was the day Sir Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Publishing, published the first “respectable” paperback book, Ariel, by André Maurois. Ariel is a biography of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. The story behind the first Penguin paperback is that Mr. Lane, after a weekend in the country with Agatha Christie, was at the train station looking for something to read on his trip back to London, but couldn’t find anything except slick magazines and pulp fiction. His idea was to make quality fiction and nonfiction available in places like train stations for discerning readers who were traveling, and to make them just as affordable as a pack of cigarettes. Voila, the modern paperback was born.
At first, booksellers were reluctant to buy Lane’s paperbacks, but when Woolworths placed a large order, the books sold so well that booksellers began to stock Lane’s books, making the name “Penguin” synonymous with paperbacks. Continue reading
EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our list for August 2017!
Pack your suitcase, put on your traveling pants and gas up the family truckster. At Half Price Books, we know getting there is half the fun, so we’re going on the road this month with a list of travel and transportation-related books, movies and tunes.
The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car, Ian Fleming
The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
MOVIES & TV
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
The Polar Express
Blue Train, John Coltrane
Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Lucinda Williams
Come Fly With Me, Frank Sinatra
Sonic Highways, Foo Fighters
Not ready to come home just yet? Check out our longer list of road trip-inspired titles at HPB.com/going.
In honor of Half Price Books turning 45, we feature some great 45 rpm singles from their heyday in the fifties, sixties and seventies. (Wait until 2050 for the birthday when we feature 78 rpm records.)
When are 45s gonna become cool again? Or so uncool that they’re hip? Who cares—we love 45s! They sound big and in-your-face, and we see so many rare, sublime and forgotten treasures come through our doors.
45s are cheap, too! Most are in the 50 cents-to-a-dollar range in our stores. Here are a few that are a little more special.
Elvis Presley – “That’s All Right”/ “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
1976, RCA Victor 447-0601 promo in RCA sleeve MCST 40462 (UK) picture disc
Elvis recorded these songs in 1954 (the single’s label says 1955) at Sun Studio for his first single. Also available, a promo reissue of his 2nd single, “Good Rockin’ Tonight.”
Both are in Very Good condition.—$15 each Continue reading
In the 1400s, Johannes Gutenberg developed the printing press bringing forth a new age of literary access to the common man and placing the care and construct of modern language in the hands of all. It was the dawn of Enlightenment.
Fast forward to now, and we’ve got emojis.
Are emojis a language? A few thumb taps and a little picture can communicate a complex idea that leaves little room for interpretation. With a simple , my wife can let me know the kids are being crazy and I should pick up a bottle of wine on my way home.
Emojis are pictures, but can they paint a picture? Would the world’s great authors be able to use emojis to express the subtle nuances of their work? Let’s find out.
Below, to the best of my ability, I have interpreted the first lines from major works of literature into emoji. Is anything lost in translation? Does the beauty of the text remain intact?
Original Text: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Original Text: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859) Continue reading
In this month’s edition of “Meet the Bibliomaniac,” we’re excited to introduce you to Sarah from our Richardson, Texas store. If you’re a Richardson shopper, Sarah is responsible for all of the fabulous displays you see there. Take it away, Sarah!
Name: Sarah Dang
Job Title: Store Inventory Merchandiser (SIM)
When did you join Half Price Books?
April 21, 2014
What is your favorite part about working at HPB?
I really love the people I work with and I can’t express enough how much I appreciate all of their encouragement and support. Aside from the magic of working at a bookstore and enjoying what I do, I really love the bonds I’ve created with everyone here. These are the kinds of friendships that last.
As a SIM, what’s an average day like for you?
Each day I start off with a list of what needs to get done. I often feel like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. I’m scurrying from place to place to make sure everything is done on time. My days are always super busy and I always have something to do. My daily tasks include merchandising tables and end caps, creating displays, ordering supplies and reorganizing our distribution bins. Simultaneously, I budget time to work on creative projects that not only advertise certain items, but also bring a unique element to our store. I in addition, create chalkboard signs to bring attention to products that don’t necessarily fly off the shelf.
It’s time for a mid-summer Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program check-up, kids! What have you been doing all summer? Because our Half Price Books kids and teens have been reading.
How much, you ask?
As of last the end of June, we’ve had 4,596 Feed Your Brain Summer Reading logs turned in across our stores. Now, the way we figure it, if each kid reads a minimum of 15 minutes per day, that’s 1,378,800 minutes of reading.
So kids, how does it feel to have read 22,980 hours with other Bookworms so far this summer? Continue reading
July 13 is Embrace Your Geekness Day, but you know what I say? Let’s keep the spirit of Geekness alive all year long and make every day Embrace Your Geekness Day.
With that in mind, I’ve created a sort of 101 class for hardcore geeks and those with geek tendencies alike. Keep in mind, this is a survey course – with a focus on science fiction and horror. It was hard narrowing down to ten items, and there are plenty of great things that could’ve made the list. Sorry if your favorite geek obsession didn’t make the cut.
There’s a good chance you’ve read or watched at least some of these recommendations on this list, but here are ten essential books, movies and TV shows to boost your geek knowledge.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
I first read Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the third or fourth grade. To say it changed my life is probably an exaggeration. At the same time, the world made more sense after reading it – which is odd, because little in this series makes sense on the surface.
A hapless every man, Arthur Dent, manages to escape our planet right before it’s blown up to create an intergalactic highway. Things get weirder from there, as Arthur Dent goes on many adventures he’s not suited for, including the successful (and disappointing) search for the meaning of life.
To begin with, stick to the first two books in the series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Together, the two books tell a complete story, and they have the best balance between Adams’ passion for science and his pessimism that we’re often far too dim to appreciate the world around us. Continue reading
Film score composers are masters of emotion. Movies become extraordinary when the music is not just a bed but most another character unto itself, creating a sometimes-subliminal experience for the audience tailored to the cues of the film. A good film score can resonate with you long after the credits roll.
This list of my favorites isn’t an attempt to be comprehensive, so you can be forewarned that the classically-obvious selections – like Star Wars (1977), brilliantly-composed by John Williams, the epic score for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, composed by Howard Shore and Titanic (1997), the romantic and haunting composition by James Horner – are not included. But I hope to open your eyes (and ears) to some movies you might not have thought of before and to suggest you take a close listen to the beauty of the score entwined with these films. Without further ado, here are my 30 film score favorites (in no particular order).
Casablanca (1942), score composed by Max Steiner, likely ranks on most any “best of” movie list I’ve ever made (like this one, and this one). Its score is ageless. I could listen to it over and over again. And, in fact, I have.